There are few Industries that seem to propagate as many misconceptions and false truths as the weight loss Industry. From misquoted research to simple marketing spin promoted by big businesses, it seems that we’re constantly awash with new ideas and concepts and it can be difficult to decipher fact from fantasy.
Over time it seems that some weight loss concepts have stuck despite the fact that they actually remain complete myths. Here are some of the most commonly held weight loss myths:
1) If I exercise hard enough, I can eat what I like
This is not true. You simply cannot out-run a poor diet. Let’s put this into perspective. Running on a cross trainer at a moderate to high intensity level for an hour will burn around 500 calories. That’s equivalent to a small 100 gram bar of milk chocolate for an hour of hard exercise. Unfortunately many people believe that just an hour or two of moderate to intensive exercise a week will enable them to eat whatever they want and still see the weight just slip off. It won’t. Exercise will help to offset some of your daily calorie consumption from food, but it won’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you like. In order to achieve weight loss you need to still make sensible changes to your diet in conjunction with your exercise plan.
2) Drinking a cup of green tea each day will help with weight loss
Highly unlikely. Whilst green tea does contain flavonoid phytonutrients which have been shown to accelerate metabolism in studies on rats, it seems they may have little effect on humans. In a study carried out with two controlled groups of human subjects, one group consuming green tea daily for 3 months and a group that consumed no green tea, it was shown that the green tea drinkers lost, on average, just one tenth of a pound more than the group that consumed no green tea. There are also some experts who believe that consuming large quantities of green tea could be detrimental, as it can effect your body’s ability to absorb iron.
3) If I don’t eat after 6pm, I’ll lose more weight
Not true. Putting on weight or dropping weight, is dictated by the total daily calories that you consume not when you choose to eat those calories. If you regularly eat 4000 calories, but all before 6pm, you’re still going to out on weight. Equally if you regularly eat only 1000 calories a day, of which 500 calories are eaten after 6pm, you’re still going to lose weight. The time of day you consume those calories is irrelevant.
4) Artificial Sweeteners are better than sugar when losing weight
Not necessarily. It’s true that artificial sweeteners contain less calories than sugar, but they are often found in products that are high in fat making their calorie value an irrelevance. Worst still is that artificial sweeteners have been shown in scientific studies to actual increase your appetite, leading to carbohydrate cravings and increased fat retention. It seems that we may all be better sticking with good old-fashioned table sugar.
5) Losing weight using a method that worked before will work again
Often it won’t. Weight loss is complicated and your body adapts quickly to a set of conditions and a certain way of eating. In most cases when you return to a diet that worked for you previously, you’ll find it far less effective the second time around. Scientists believe this is not only due to the adaptation of your body to the new hormonal environment, but also physiological and behaviour factors within yourself that change the second time around. Often trying a completely different diet than the one you did before produces much better results.
6) I can eat as much fruit as I like when losing weight as its healthy
Fruit is certainly healthy but also laden with calories. If you’re goal is weight loss than you need to cut down on your calories and this means reducing sugar-rich foods including fruit and fruit juices. It doesn’t matter that these sugars are natural fruit sugars – they’ll have the same effect for weight gain as eating processed or refined sugar. Remember that there are plenty of foods that are healthy but that still pack a punch when it comes to calories.
7) Cutting out entire food groups is a good way to lose weight
Absolutely not. Certainly not if you’re eating too much from the other food groups. Any diet that revolves around cutting out entire food groups is nothing more than a fad. It relies on lowering your calories simply through the loss of that food group. The popularity of high protein, no carb diets was based not on any magic formula, but simply the fact that it’s very difficult to eat vast quantities of just protein and fat without carbohydrates. It’s carbohydrates that are the comfort food and by taking this from the diet, people naturally eat far less calories that when they previously consumed carbohydrates. A sensible diet should never revolve around eliminating entire food groups from your diet. We need all food groups for proper health and development.
8) If I perform lots of sit-ups I will get a flat stomach
Not true. You can perform thousands of sit-ups every day, but unless you burn the fat that’s sitting on top of your abdominal muscles you’ll never see a flat stomach underneath. Performing lots of stomach exercise will only serve to develop the muscles sitting beneath the layer of fat. In order to burn the fat you actually need to increase your cardiovascular exercise and start making dietary changes to create a calorie deficit.